NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — The West Essex Regional Board of Education unanimously approved the 2018-2019 budget for the upcoming fiscal year, beginning July 1, 2018 when it met on Tuesday night.

The budget was approved the follows:

Total General Fund: $38,744.329 (budget)  $36,277,785 (local tax levy)

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Total Special Revenue Fund: $263,000 (budget)

Total Debt Service Fund: $2,176,550 (budget) $2,059,950 (local tax levy)

TOTALS: $41,183,879 (budget) $38,337,735 (local tax levy)

The budget was presented by Business Administrator/Board Secretary Melissa Kida, who announced that the state aid of $1,280,625 represents an increase of 11.75 percent from last year.

The budget reflects a 2.98 percent local tax levy increase to the General Fund. Kida noted that the increase of more than 2 percent is due to a health insurance adjustment of $345,234. 

The overall increase of 2.65 percent reflects the local tax levy and debt service levy, she said. The total dollar amount increase from the 2017-2018 budget is $812,278.

As seen in the detailed budget breakdown seen in the slides above, the budget maintains all existing district staff, academic offerings, extra curricular activities and transportation currently provided while also meeting the increases of contractual obligations for salaries and benefits and operational costs. 

Additionally, this budget will provide for the replacement of 15-year-old band uniforms, additional staffing and seven classroom renovations. An allocation of $300,000 for technology needs is included, which will allow for the replacement of obsolete servers, a redesign of the current 1:1 initiative providing a new lease for chrome books for the incoming seventh and current ninth graders. Furthermore, a new art course of Digital Photography will now be offered.

Built into the budget is an allocation of $200,000, which will be utilized to continue district lighting upgrades with LED fixtures, install new drop ceilings in two hallways in the middle school, apply striping and sealcoat to the parking lots and make various renovations to classrooms during the summer in both buildings.

Board President Deborah Sacco-Calderone thanked the administration for crafting the budget and asked for comments from her colleagues.

Board member Judith Amorim-Dias questioned Kida on the disparity between the sending districts as is represented by the local tax increases.

“To confirm in public, my concern over the past four years, of the North Caldwell contributed allocation to the West Essex Regional school budget is to my understanding, not within the control of our board, nor our administration to determine,” she said. “It is predetermined by the New Jersey Department of Education’s School Funding Reform Act. Is that correct?” 

Kida confirmed that it is not a localized decision, but one made in Trenton on the district’s behalf based upon various factors. 

The disparity between the districts can be seen in the Power Point slide above.

In other news, the board approved all items on Tuesday’s consent agenda, including the approval of an additional hazardous route along West Greenbrook Road due to the fact that no sidewalks exist and it is extremely dangerous for students walking that path. 

The board also approved the appropriation of $530,029 in capital reserves for renovations to the boys and girls locker rooms in the middle school. The board had previously approved funding in 2002, but the project did not come to fruition at that time.

Funding for Advanced Placement (AP) test preparation for the 25 AP courses currently offered was also approved.

The next board of education meeting is scheduled for May 29.